THE NAMES OF GOD Lesson #1
The Names of the Lord Psalm 9:10
Throughout the Word of God names were given to children that had special meaning and significance. Sometimes a person’ s name would be changed or a name would be ascribed to him, either by God or by someone else, indicating radical change of life. Here are some examples: Adam means “red earth,” indicating his being created by God from the dust of the earth. Jacob means “cheat, supplanter;” but God changed his name to Israel, which means “prince with God.” Moses means “drawn forth.” He was named that because Pharaoh’s daughter drew him out of the water. In the Bible, the name given to a person said something about that person.
The same thing is true concerning the names of the Lord our God. However, no single word in human language is sufficient to serve as a name for him. Therefore, there are several words or names by which he has made himself known. The names applied to God in Scripture describe his glorious character, reveal his great attributes, and display his redemptive purpose. In this study we will simply look at the names by which God reveals himself in the Holy Scriptures and their meaning. There are ten specific names ascribed to our God in Holy Scripture.
1. The first revelation of God is found in Genesis 1:1-“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The name of God given there is “ELOHIM.” “Elohim” means “to worship.” This is the name of our God. He is THE WORSHIPPED ONE. He is the only object of true worship, praise, adoration, and trust. The word “Elohim” is given in the plural, though is refers to One God. The significance is obvious. We worship One God who is three distinct Persons in One glorious Being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (I John 5:7).
2. Another name of God is “EL” or “ELI.” In Genesis 12:7-8 the Lord appeared to Abraham, and made a covenant with him. Abraham built an altar there and called the place “Beth-El,” which means “the house of God.” This is the word our Lord used, when he cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sa-bach-tha-na?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). This name, “El”, means “strong, or might God.” It is expressive of the power of God.
3. Next, God reveals himself under the name “ELIOM” in Genesis 14:18-22. “Eliom” means “ the most high God.” It is expressive of God’s supremacy and majesty. Our Lord Jesus, of whom Melchizedek was at least a type, (if he was not (as many suggest) Christ himself in one of his many preincarnate manifestations), is called “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32). Eliom is the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity.
4. God also revealed himself to Abraham by the name “SHADDAI,” which we translate “Almighty” (Gen. 17:1). “Shaddai” means “God all-sufficient.” It expresses more than the power of God alone. It expresses the power and sufficiency of God to bestow his grace and fulfill his promises. El-Shaddai is God able to save, able to do his will, able to shed his blessings upon his people.
5. In I Samuel 1:9-11, we see Hannah calling upon “THE LORD OF HOSTS” in her deep distress. “The Lord of Sabaoth” (Isa. 6:3; James 5:4) is our God. This name is expressive of God’s sovereign dominion and power over all his creatures. The Lord of Hosts has “his way in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou?”
“Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be loosing,
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He—
Lord Sabaoth His name, From age to age the same—And He must win the battle!”
6. In Genesis 15:2, Abraham called upon God by the name “ADONAI,” to give him the promised covenant seed.” “Adonai” means “the Cause,” or “the Support.” Truly, Adonai is a suitable name for our God. He is the original cause of all things (Rom. 11:36). And our God supports and maintains all things (Heb. 1:3). And he upholds his saints with the right hand of his righteousness (Isa. 41:10).
7. In Exodus 3:13-14, the Lord appeared to Moses as “EJEH,” which means “I Am that I Am.” “Ejeh” refers to the immutability of our God and Savior (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). With our God there is no variableness and no shadow of turning. He is eternally the same (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17). “I Am” is God who changes not.
8. In the New Testament, the word by which our God is most often revealed is “LORD,” the Greek word is “Kunios.” “Lord” simply means, God who is sovereign. It refers to God’s dominion, power, authority, and right of ownership over all things. This is the word commonly used to describe Christ our Mediator King (Acts 10:36; I Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:4). While this particular word is often translated “master” or “sir,” as a title of respect and applied to men. When it is applied to Christ, it implies his dominion and authority as Lord over all things. Yet, it also implies the willing surrender of all believers to him as their Lord (Luke 14:25-33). Christ is the sovereign despot of all men (II Pet. 2:1). He is our Lord (John 20:28).
9. The word translated “GOD” in the New Testament is “Theos.” “Theos,” God, is one who is holy, who sees all things and knows all things, and disposes of all things. God who is light is perfectly holy. He sees all things with perfect clarity. And he disposes of all things as he will.
These nine names of God tell us that God is infinite, eternal, almighty, self-existent, self-sufficient, ineffably glorious and holy. This great God is a God to be feared, worshipped, and obeyed. He is a consuming fire, unapproachably glorious. Let me have nothing to do with this God; “who only hath immortality dwelling in light, which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see!” I am a frail, fickle man of sinful flesh. Should I ever meet this God, great majestic, glorious, and holy, his sovereign power would consume me more quickly than dried grass is consumed in a blazing furnace. Is there then no hope for sinners? Is there not a daysman to stand between us and God? Is there not One with holy hands and a pure heart who has never lifted up his soul unto vanity, who can approach God in our stead, and stand before him to plead our cause? Indeed there is! Blessed be God, there is a Substitute, who is himself God! He is constantly revealed under a tenth name of God throughout the Scriptures.
10. God’s glorious redemptive name is JEHOVAH. The word “Jehovah” means “Savior” or “Deliverer” (Ex. 6:3). God in Christ is God mighty to save! Jehovah, essentially means “to be.” And our Lord Jesus Christ declares that he is the One “which is, which was, and which is to come” (Rev. 1:4). He is the eternal God of salvation, redemption, and deliverance. The Jews had such reverence for this name that they would not allow it to be spoken in common conversation, read aloud, or even written. When the scribes would write the word Jehovah in copying the Scriptures, they would bathe themselves before writing it. I would not have us given over to Jewish superstitions; but we ought to highly reverence the name of our God. “This glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD” (Duet. 28:58) is not to be taken in vain, used in common speech, or spoken with any levity. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7) He that sent redemption to his people and commanded his covenant forever is to be reverenced by us. “Holy and reverend is his name” (Ps. 111:9). Let us ever extol, honor, praise, and magnify the name of the Lord our God. “I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell” (Ps. 86:12-13). “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake” (Ps. 115:1).